United States v. N Adams (901422128)

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Read for 1/31/11

Reading Notes

  • Companion case with the Graham case (also decided 1966)
  • US wants to review a a judgment of the Court of Claims holding a patent granted to Adams for a wet battery valid
    • Adams sued the government for infringement
  • USSC affirmed the finding of validity
  • Patent is for a non-rechargeable electrical battery
    • First "practical, water-activated, constant potential battery which could be fabricated and stored indefinitely without fluid in its cells"
  • Brought his invention to the Army and Navy who decided it wasn't workable
    • Eventually changed their mind and stated using such batteries but did not inform Adams
  • Government relied heavily upon six instances of prior art
    • Court basically discredits all of these as being very dissimilar to Adams'
  • Government challenged under both 102 and 103
  • Said his combination provided no significant change from prior designs even though it was an improvement
    • Several errors in this
      • Water-activated sets it apart and this was not an afterthought of a patent lawyer
  • If his battery was merely full of identically functioning substitutions it would not have been an improvement
  • Also conclude non-obviousness
    • Long accepted notions about batteries would have deterred an inventor from the combinations used by Adams
    • Noted experts expressed disbelief

Basic Patent Law

  • The claims limit the invention and specifications cannot expand the monopoly
  • An inoperable invention cannot negative novelty

Class Notes